Queen Victoria Statue

This statue, unquestionably the most moved statue in the island, was created to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1897.

Suggestions as to who should create the statue were numerous, but by September 1887, the Sculpture Committee had accepted the quote of Parisien sculptor, Georges Wallet, who was in fact the son of an Englishman. Wallet had forwarded the committee a photo of a half-size model of the proposed statue, which he said, he could produce full size, in bronze, cast by the well-known Parisien foundry of Barbadienne ou Thiebot, for £370.

The next challenge for the committee was where to site the statue. The most popular choice was The Weighbridge Gardens, followed by either The Town Church or The Royal Square. In addition to this, another interesting suggestion had been mooted. This involved reusing the General Don monument that stood in the Parade. The idea was to have a combined statue of Queen Victoria, General Don and Major Francis Peirson, using the existing plinth as its base. Queen Victoria would go on top, and Don and Peirson would replace Mercury and Ceres on either side.

The debate as to where the statue would be sited went on for some time, and in their efforts to find the best place, the Sculpture Committee toured the Town with a tailor’s wooden dummy acting as the statue.

The actual statue of Victoria was finally erected in The Weighbridge Gardens, which was the Committee’s first choice, but one that they had thought would not be allowed by the States of Jersey.

In August 1890, the 8 ton plinth goes up, with a time capsule beneath it. A day or two later, under the cover of darkness, in the early hours of the morning, the statue was put up.

3rd September 1890, the statue is unveiled by the Lt.Governor, Lt General Charles Brisbane Ewart. A number of uncomplimentary comments were forthcoming; the sculptor was a Frenchman; the Queen looks dumpy; her left arm looks like she is holding a plate of vegetables. Victoria stayed at the centre of Weighbridge Gardens until January 1970.

In January 1970, Victoria was moved a few yards towards the sea, and reinstated outside the Jersey Tourism offices in what is now called Liberation Square. At the time, the area was a car park.  By February the statue is finally in place, still looking out to St.Aubin, but with a new time capsule underneath. This now holds whatever stood the test of time from the original capsule, together with some 1970 artefacts.

April 1973, The Public Works Committee thinks that a public car park is not the most appropriate place for Queen Victoria. Once again, the question of where should the statue go appears again.

March 1975, the question of Victoria’s move comes up again on the States’ agenda. Among the sites suggested are: The Triangle Park; the Victoria Pier; the Victoria Cottage Homes and the end of Victoria Avenue.

March 1976, At last a decision is made, Victoria will be erected in the Triangle Park, which will be renamed The Victoria Park. By the end of the month, Victoria is in place, overlooking Elizabeth Castle, St.Aubin’s Bay and the road that bears her name.

©Arthur Lamy     

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